Voters to Weigh in on ‘Dry’ Issue

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UNION COUNTY – An Italian restaurant in Gregg Township has wanted to serve alcohol with their pizza and pasta dishes for years. On Tuesday, voters in Union County may help Original Italian Pizza over the first big hurdle deciding whether or not the area should remain dry.

The family-run restaurant in Union County wants to serve up more than just soft drinks.

"A lot of people like to have wine with their pasta, or beer when they're watching a game or whatever," says Gaetano Balsamo of Original Italian Pizza.

But owners at Original Italian Pizza near Allenwood say getting a liquor license is going to be a bigger challenge than they originally thought.

"We contacted Harrisburg to see if we could get it licensed and they said it's a dry township there was nothing they could do," said Balsamo.

Gregg Township has been a dry township since the 1930s. You can’t buy any alcohol at a restaurant. Only one beer distributor has been grandfathered in and has avoided the restrictions. Now voters will decide if after decades the law should change.

"I'm surprised they don't have it yet, most places do already,” said Sis Coffin.

Coffin lives right next to the Italian restaurant and wouldn’t mind if they serve up adult beverages.

"As long as, you know, it's not a bar. They're not going to go out and party and be outside and be all loud,” Coffin.

If voters in Gregg Township do decide to approve the liquor issue, owners at Original Italian Pizza say it'll be a long time before they can start serving up any alcohol.

"We have a long road in front of us; I wish it was the end,” said Balsamo.

The Balsamo family says they would plan to expand an area into an outdoor patio and add a small outdoor kitchen, but they’d need to wait until a liquor license becomes available to serve up drinks in the county, and that could take years.

Some neighbors like Fred Newton say they’re not sure they ever want to see alcohol served in their hometown.

"That will degrade any neighborhood where they're all coming in for that. It's a bad reputation for our neighborhood to be helping people destroy themselves,” said Newton.

There are three boroughs and seven other townships that are dry in Union County according to the Liquor Control Board. That’s at least until voters weigh in on the issue Tuesday.